While the ground is still too hard to dig in but nature still teases us with a few warm days between the snow, now is a great time to get back outside and start preparations for spring.
-The most important thing to do this month is to clean all leaf litter from around your ornamental plants and spray them to prevent insect problems this spring. Many diseases, insects (and their eggs) take winter refuge in the shelter of plants. By spraying now with a mixture of dormant horticultural oil and lime-sulfur, you will greatly reduce the chance of insect damage this spring.
-- If you are noticing that your perennials are starting to come up, you can protect them by covering them with a cloth or layer of newspaper on nights when the temperature drops or if we are expecting a heavy frost. Weigh down the edges with rocks to prevent your cover from blowing off. However, don't make the mistake of thinking plants can stay covered for more than an evening. Even if temperatures are freezing, be sure to remove the cover in the morning, Plants cannot breath under a heavy cover and this will create even more stress for them.
-If you can't wait to get that pop of summer color, place Primrose on inside windowsills to brighten up a room until they can be moved outside next month.
-Start your seed cold vegetables indoors now. This includes kohlrabi, cabbage and kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, onion, lobelia, ageratum, and verbena. Once germinated, place under a grow light or bright sunlight to prevent legginess.
-Keep feeding those hungry birds. Heavy snowfall this year has covered much of their food sources.
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-Get excited about spring. Start looking through seed and bulb catalogs to get inspiration for early planting.
-Prep those tools. Gardening tools are more effective and easy on the hands if the blades are sharpened and the handles sanded and oiled.
-Fruit trees should be pruned now while they are dormant. Remove the water sprouts (branches that grow straight up) that restrict light and air flow. Be gentle with early spring bloomers as buds can be removed in the process.
-Now is a great time to buy and plant bare root plants. Bare root fruit plants may look dead but they are actually dormant for the winter. Avoid any bare root plant that is showing green buds or shoots as this means that it is coming out of dormancy and will most likely die prematurely in the cold temperatures.
-Start germinating violas, wildflower mixes and pansies inside for early spring planting.
As Christmas time quickly approaches our focus is seldom on the garden. There are, however, a few quick things that can be done to protect your remaining plants and make the season bright!
-On nights where it is going to be exceptionally cold, cover your tender conifers and evergreens with fabric or plastic. Although this sounds contradictory, give them a little water. You don't want the roots to freeze and wet roots actually hold heat better than dry roots. Make sure to not leave the cover on for more than 2 days. It is best to remove the cover during the day when temperatures rise.
-Shake excess snow out of delicate trees to prevent breakage.
-Deep-root water your trees and shrubs on a warm day as long as the soil is not frozen. Do this monthly to keep the roots moist.
-POINSETTIAS: Place poinsettias in a bright location away from direct heat or cold. Water regularly but be sure they are not sitting in water at the bottom of their pot covers.
But most importantly,
-Make time to spend with the people you love.
-Keep your family and friends close and remind them how important they are to you
-Have a very merry Christmas!